WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- A national review suggests more than 200 million Americans are being exposed to dangerous levels of chromium-6, a carcinogenic chemical made famous by the movie Erin Brockvich.
The real-life lawsuit the film is based upon led to requirements in the state of California restricting the amount of the chemical permitted in water.
Analysis of water from around the country suggests millions of Americans -- including those in California -- are being exposed to the chemical, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group.
The EWG analysis of 60,000 samples of drinking water collected by the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2015 shows more than 75 percent contained chromium-6 -- meaning 218 million people, or two-thirds of the American population, are exposed to the chemical every day.
Scientists in California set a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion -- the equivalent of one drop in an Olympic-sized pool -- after the Brockovich case, which centered around the water in Hinkley, Calif., more than 25 years ago.
California state officials adopted a standard that is about 500 times the public health goal years after the Brockovich case, and the EPA has a drinking water standard of 0.1 milligrams per liter, or 100 parts per billion, for any type of chromium, including chromium-6.
Water safety issues are arising more frequently, with people sickened by water sources in Flint, Mich., cities across the country are finding lead and other contamination to be a large concern in tap water.
"Americans are exposed to dozens if not hundreds of other cancer-causing chemicals every day in their drinking water, their consumer products and their foods," Bill Walker, co-author of the EWG report, told CNN. "And what the best science of the last decade tells us is that these chemicals acting in combination with each other can be more dangerous than exposure to a single chemical."